Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Super-parent' cultural pressures can spur mental health conditions in new moms and dads

18.08.2014

Mental health experts in the past three decades have emphasized the dangers of post-partum depression for mothers, but a University of Kansas researcher says expanding awareness of several other perinatal mental health conditions is important for all new parents, including fathers.

This awareness has become even more critical as "super mom" and "super dad" pressures continue to grow, said Carrie Wendel-Hummell, a KU doctoral candidate in sociology, who will present her study on perinatal mental health disorders at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Perinatal is a term that describes the several weeks before, during, and after birth.

"Both mothers and fathers need to pay attention to their mental health during the perinatal period, and they need to watch for these other types of conditions, not just depression," she said. "Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, and bi-polar disorder are all shaped by circumstances that surround having a baby."

As part of her research, Wendel-Hummell who is also a project manager at KU's Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options in the School of Social Welfare, conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with 17 new fathers and 30 new mothers primarily from Kansas and Missouri.

The sample covered a range of low-income to middle-class parents. She did not require a diagnosis of a perinatal mental health condition, but all participants had experienced prolonged symptoms of at least one.

According to Wendel-Hummell, a major focus of her research is to bring together biological and sociological understandings of the problems that new parents face. Medical researchers for years had attributed post-partum depression in new mothers to hormonal changes, despite evidence to the contrary.

"It has been framed so much as being a hormonal disorder, but the evidence there is actually very limited," she said. "Child birth itself is a life change and a life stressor, so actually there's far more evidence that those risk factors are the cause, more so than hormones."

Distressed mothers and fathers in the interviews generally voiced concerns about social problems, including cultural expectations of parenting, relationship stress, family-work balance issues, and struggles with poverty.

At the root of their perinatal mental health issues, low-income parents in the interviews mentioned ongoing struggles to tend to their infant's basic needs in the face of low wages and job insecurity, as well as to secure affordable quality childcare, reliable transportation, and safe housing.

These parents were often unable to afford mental health treatment. Frequently, pregnancy-based Medicaid is cut off after a post birth appointment, which prevents coverage of treatment of post-partum depression or other post-pregnancy mental health disorders, Wendel-Hummell said.

"They aren't getting the support they need," she said.

In terms of middle-class parents, Wendel-Hummell said these people tend to put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect mothers and fathers.

"Middle-class mothers often try to do everything to balance work and home life, and fathers are increasingly attempting to do the same," she said. "This pressure can exacerbate mental health conditions. If everything is not perfect, they feel like failures — and mothers tend to internalize that guilt."

Fathers in her study often suffered stress from working in places that did not have family friendly leave policies and from generally lacking resources to prepare them for fatherhood, Wendel-Hummell said.

Most people also tend to focus on the mother and baby.

"Nobody is asking about the father and how he's doing," she said. "People typically focus on the mom and the infant, so not only is it more difficult for men to express their emotions, nobody is opening up that window for them either."

Wendel-Hummell believes we need to recognize the prevalence of these additional perinatal mental health conditions and, in addition, find ways to screen for them.

"We really only have a screening procedure for depression," she said. "There should be improved screening, and it should be done in the later stages of women's pregnancy and throughout that first year after the baby is born, for both mothers and fathers."

Wendel-Hummell said focusing on implementing social policies (e.g paid maternity and paternity leave, sick pay, and accessible health care coverage) that address the mental health challenges many new parents face is essential. She also emphasizes the need to adjust the cultural expectations around parenting, including reducing pressures to be the perfect parent who can do everything on his or her own, and encouraging parents to accept support from family, friends, and their community.

"We focus way too much on, 'how do we fix this individual,' but we really need to address the state of social and family policy," Wendel-Hummell said.

###

About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

The paper, "Nature and Culture: Lay Accounts of Perinatal Mental Health Disorders," will be presented on Monday, Aug. 18, at 2:30 p.m. PDT in San Francisco at the American Sociological Association's 109th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for assistance reaching the study's author(s); or for more information on other ASA presentations, members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler, ASA Media Relations Manager, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org. During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 16-19), ASA Public Information Office staff can be reached in the on-site press office, located in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square's Union Square 1-2 Room, at (415) 923-7506 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

This press release was written by George Diepenbrock, Public Affairs Officer, University of Kansas. For more information about the study, members of the media can also contact Diepenbrock at (785) 864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.

Papers presented at the ASA Annual Meeting are typically working papers that have not yet been published in peer reviewed journals.

Daniel Fowler | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.asanet.org

Further reports about: Perinatal Sociological disorder expectations pressure pressures problems

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>